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tv   NBC Nightly News  NBC  August 16, 2009 6:30pm-7:00pm EDT

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fire and rain. hurricane season suddenly kicks into high gear along the gulf coast as wildfires burn out of control in california. a changing view. from the president on health care reform. will compromise save his plan? cutting the cards. credit card companies clean house canceling accounts and raising fees. could it happen to you? and holding the bag. golf. it's a sport known for birdieing, even a tiger. but how did llamas become par birdieing, even a tiger. but how did llamas become par for the course? captions paid for by nbc-universal television
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good evening. when this weekend began on friday night, the two-month-old hurricane season had not recorded a single named storm. tonight, there are three. but as always eyes were turned to a pair of storms still making their way across the atlantic, a third system, tropical storm claudette, suddenly popped up just today right off florida's gulf coast. at this hour claudette is spreading heavy rain and gusty winds across the florida panhandle. weather channel meteorologist jeff morrow is on st. george island, florida, with the latest on claudette and those other approaching storms. jeff? >> reporter: you've hit it right on the head there, lester. it wasn't anything as far as a tropical season up until about three days ago and we started watching things out in the center of the atlanta and lo and behold our first landfalling system is tropical storm claudette. we're in st. george island and the winds coming off the gulf right now are gusting upwards of
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45, 50, maybe close to 55 miles an hour. we had a wind gust at nearby apalachicola to about 51 a little earlier and the rain coming down as well. we've had between 2 and 3 inches of rain here that. may end up being the biggest problem from this whole tropical storm. but, again, the whole system is slowly working its way onshore. it's not going to stay out in the gulf very long. it will progress inland as we head on through the overnight hours taking its wind and the heavier rain with it as well. as a matter of fact, it won't stop there. it will continue to track northward with time heading up through alabama and actually maybe not all of a bad thing there as they could use a little bit more rain across parts of the parched southeast as we head on through the next couple of days. but as you mentioned, that's not the only game in town. we also have tropical depression an ana which was a tropical storm, and we have tropical storm bill behind that, which is the bigger system and the one we're really most worried about. it could easily become a hurricane here within the next 12 to 24 hours.
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now, the news with ana is that it will probably weaken and stay a tropical depression or even less as it moves into the caribbean. however, bill, even though it may become a hurricane and a fairly potent hurricane, right now the indications are it could stay off shore of the east coast. that's what our latest computer models are telling us, but we can't let our guard down. from the middle 6 august into the middle of september, that is the middle of the hurricane season, and so claudette is just a reminder of what things can do this time of the year. lester? >> jeff morrow in florida. we'll stay in close contact with you and all our colleagues at the weather channel. the latest on the debate over health care reform. president obama has made changing the system his number one priority, a goal he's fought for and now appearing willing to compromise for as well. we get the latest from our chief white house correspondent chuck todd traveling with the president in scottsdale, arizona. chuck, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, lester. well, the president's working vacation was much more about play today as the first family
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added the grand canyon to the list of western natural wonders they've seen this week, but as every president knows, work always is hovering and in this case it's the work of health care. >> what do you think? pretty nice. >> reporter: the first family took in the grand canyon sunday from a number of angles. it's the second major national park visited by the president this weekend. an attempt to highlight the fee free weekend for all visitors to u.s. national park. while today was mostly about play, the president did focus on work, too. using a "new york times" op-ed to sum up the arguments ease made at three town halls. he writes there are four main ways the reform we're proposing will provide more stability and security to americans. if you don't have health insurance, you will finally have quality affordable options once we pass reform, and he will do all of this without adding to our deficit over the next decade largely by cutting waste and ending sweetheart deals for insurance companies. we are talking about making medicare more efficient,
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eliminating the insurance subsidies. health insurance reform will mean a set of common sense consumer protections for folks with health insurance. >> reporter: what's missing from the message? any mention of a government run insurance option. he hinted last night this facet of his plan wasn't make or break for him. >> the public option, whether we have it or we don't have it, is not the entirety of health care reform. this is just one sliver of it. >> reporter: the alternative to a public option is a could op t would be government influenced but not government-run. a plan authored by north dakota democrat kent conrad. >> the fact of the matter is there are not the votes in the united states senate for the public option. there never have been, so to continue to chase that rabbit i think is just a wasted effort. >> reporter: and, of course, there continues to be debate about the debate. arlen specter who had his own rowdy town halls this week isn't
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impressed with the protesters. >> i think we have to bear in mind that although those people need to be heard and have a right to be heard sha, that the not really representative of america. >> not surprisingly utah republican orrin hatch disagrees. >> i disagree with arlen they're not representative of the american public. they are. i have found people up in arms everywhere i have gone on health care. >> reporter: lester, a quick update on the president's schedule. he's spending his last even evening in arizona golfing. tomorrow it's a speech to the convention of the veterans of foreign wars. >> and, chuck, i'm curious what may be behind this decision to forgo, if necessary, the public option. is it victory at any cost? >> reporter: the white house has been hinting at this for weeks if not months. when kent conrad, as we heard in this piece, talked about the public option, when we came out with that co-op idea, i could tell you insiders at the white house said, boy, this is going to gain a lot of traction, and
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that's conservative democrats, this is not about getting a bipartisan bill out of the senate. this is about getting folks like ben nelson, joe lieberman, blanch binken, getting them on board and a full fledged public option was making them hesitant. co-op will be the compromise that probably gets it done. >> chuck todd, thank you. it's wildfire season out west. high winds and tinder dry conditions have created a perfect firestorm in parts of california where thousands of firefighters are battling at least seven major blazes. nbc's michael okwu is in davenport, california. he joins us now with the latest. michael? >> reporter: lester, california officials say that the wildfire here in santa cruz county is their number one priority. and even though the winds were mild overnight and this afternoon, firefighters are not taking any chances. under the smoke there's fire, a
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forest floor burning, a constant cramcle that to firefighters means this is not over. >> i will send an engine to double-check. >> reporter: battalion chief barry beerman has been on the line all night. now briefing strike team leaders maps plans to contain the wildfire's northwestern flank. the blaze, which started wednesday s burning in canyons too steep to attack, so they're letting the fire come to them and digging breaks where they hope to stop it along this road. >> what we're going to do right here is hold the fire on the pretty ranch road to ensure it does not cross. >> reporter: strike team 2177 alpha arrived on the ready to hold the line. their first call to protect a historic home within a mile of the simmering blaze. >> our assignment has been to protect this compound. >> reporter: their main concern is structures burning and sudden flames that could fan the blaze over the line. >> you would have a tremendous
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ember casting going across over into the unburned fuel on the other side that we don't want the fire to get to. >> reporter: if the wildfire make it is over that ridge to the east, firefighters would have to make a final stand here on last chance road. john kreigsman has lived on the road for 30 years. >> it's difficult. you know, it's not comfortable, but it's not panic. >> any prep work we can do to enhance our chances of saving all this is what we'll do. >> reporter: the firefighters confident but cautious. and perhaps there's reason to be confident. the wildfire is now 50% contained. lester? >> michael, thank you. to health news how. as flu season approaches in schools across the country prepare to reopen, government officials are in a race to field a safe and effective swine flu vacci vaccine. as rehema ellis reports, they are getting some crucial help. >> reporter: 45-year-old caroline is one of the foot soldiers in a battle against time a mother of three, she's often volunteered for clinical
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trials. now rolling up her sleeves to take part in testing the pandemic flu vaccine that many parents would like to have ready by the start of school. >> hopefully they'll find a cure or the right vaccine that will work and it will help protect my kids. >> reporter: emory university in atlanta is part of eight government sponsored clinical trials that will involve 2,800 people. the initial testing that began last week includes healthy adults 18 and older. >> these studies will inform on vaccine policy how best to use the vaccines. we don't currently know if one dose or two will be required. we don't know if it's high dose or low dose. >> reporter: volunteers will get three shots, including one for seasonal flu. they'll get seven checkups over the next two months. trials begin soon in healthy children between the ages of 6 months and 17 years old, a critical test group because last spring h1n1 affected many young, healthy people and shut down
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schools. house officials are racing to have a vaccine ready when most schools reopen in just a few weeks. in 1976 there was a swine flu epidemic. after being vaccinated, more than 500 people developed guy lan bar raisin drom, a neurological disorder. 25 died. but health experts don't expect that to happen this time. >> we have a lot of experience getting vaccines ready for regular seasonal flu, and this h1n1 strain was identified very early in the game. >> reporter: still, the first h1n1 vaccines may not be ready until the middle of october. weeks after many kids have already started school. rehema ellis, nbc news, new york. when "nightly news" continues this sunday evening, how credit card companies looking to cut their losses are cutting off credit to some customers. and this is no ordinary beast and no ordinary burden. look who joined the golf club.
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economic news now. and the insecurity that comes from carrying a credit card these days. in hard times that card can be a lifeline, but credit card companies having troubles of their own lately are increasingly willing to cut that lifeline even to good customers. cnbc's trish regan explains. >> reporter: when mary horowitz tried to treat herself to a day at the spa for her 28th birthday she got a big surprise. >> the girl told me my card was declined. >> reporter: she called her credit card company to find out why. after all, she said her card had a zero balance and she had been a member in good standing for
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five years. >> they told me my card had been canceled the previous week because of delinquent history on my credit report. and i asked them specifically what delinquent payments and what late payments. >> reporter: horowitz is one of millions of americans who have a credit card suddenly shut off. >> credit card issuers are proactively cleaning house. a consumer who either doesn't use the card or under utilizes the card is simply not generating revenue for the credit card issuer. >> reporter: and with the unemployment rate at 9.4% and expected to move higher, banks are scrambling to reduce their exposure to potentially bad credit lines. >> everybody presents a higher risk than what they did a year ago. and each individual card company is going to look at thour own portfolio and own customers. >> reporter: but banks are on a deadline. they're rushing to close accounts ahead of the consumer credit card bill of rights law scheduled to take effect in part on thursday when card companies must give customers 45 days notice before upping interest rates. yet they can still slash credit
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lines and most expect they will. according to one prominent wall street analyst, more than $2 trillion, roughly half of all credit lines available in the u.s., may be rescinded by 2010. as for mary hor row wits, she asplit for and received a new credit card. still she and her husband are reluctant to use it. >> we decided to go to a cash-only system, so if we don't have the money, we don't buy it. >> reporter: a new behavior more and more americans are beginning to live by. trish regan, cnbc, new york. the city of chicago facing its own money troubles planned something close to a shut down tomorrow. public libraries, health clinics, and most city offices, including city hall, will be closed. trash collection will be suspended. the city calls it a reduced service day and hopes to save millions. police, fire, and other public safety services will remain at full strength. when "nightly news" continues, what it's really like to cover a war in a place that
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this is a critical week for the war in afghanistan with the taliban threatening to disrupt thursday's elections. but u.s. forces in that country face more than just a determined enemy. nbc's jim maceda was recently embedded with the marines in helmand province. tonight he offers us a raw look at what life is like on the front lines both for the marines and the journalists who cover them.
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>> reporter: we knew we were in the right place. as i send my enemies to heaven, i remain in hell read the sign, and this had to be hell. >> you can only work for a couple of minutes with these on your lap in this heat. it will start to burn right through your clothes. >> reporter: nice. like these three-inch killer wasps. >> we have friends all over the place here. you know what i'm saying? >> reporter: when you're not dealing with the threat from the taliban or from ieds or ambushes, you have to deal with this. tlirsy killer wasps hanging out at the only waterhole. then our only link to the outside world crashed in the 130 degree heat. >> dust in everything, including our workspace. there. as clean as it can be until it gets dusty again in about five or ten minutes. >> reporter: then we lost our digital camera when colleague steve o'neal got a little too
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close to a marine headlock. one flying kick broke the camera in two which still managed to record its own demise. >> medic. >> reporter: so by day two we were down to a backup amateur handy cam and to take home movies on vacation, which this definitely wasn't. >> steve, it's not some of our best days, is it? >> it's the worst in living memory for me. >> reporter: not the best attitude when you're stuck in a booby trapped ghost town in the middle of nowhere surrounded by taliban. >> there's not really anything over here. this is really no man's land. >> pretty much, yeah. >> reporter: training and chow pass the time if you can call mres or meals ready to eat eating. >> so beef ravioli, crackers, and cheese spread all mixed. >> a little tabasco. >> but on a good day at least
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there was. >> combat pizza. >> reporter: a make it up as you go and holy cow cheese all cooked in an ammo can. >> it's getting a little bit funky. >> oh, yes. >> feel like i never left new jersey. >> reporter: but this was helmand, afghanistan, and we were sleeping with rockets on the embed from hell. >> brent: nbc's jim maceda on life as an embed with u.s. marines in afghanistan. there may be another royal wedding in britain's future. prince william and kate middleton have reportedly decided to get married in time for the queen's diamond jub li that. doesn't come until 2012 so don't pick out the wedding gifts quite yet. and in berlin today the fastest man on earth got even faster. bolt set a new world record in the 100 meter at today's world
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championships. his time, 9.58 seconds. that's 0.011 of a second faster than the previous record set by bolt in the beijing olympics. when we come back, what has four legs, big eyes, and a bag of clubs on its back? >> how going to watch? ere's my car? where's my car?!!!! where are you?! arghhh... (announcer) dr. scholl's massaging gel insoles give you outrageous comfort, all-day-guaranteed. woah. it's not too far... (announcer) are you gellin'? dr. scholl's.
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ball once in a while and that means carrying a heavy bag of clubs around. a golf cart can help or a caddie, but if you want to try something completely different our own peter alexander may have found just the thing. watch. >> reporter: in the game of golf, you'll find plenty of birdies, the occasional eagle, and these days at the sherwood forest golf course in north carolina's blue ridge mountains, llamas. no golf carts here. these pack animals serve as caddies. what were you thinking? >> they're a perfect fit. i say why not. >> reporter: greens keeper mark english says he wanted to do this for 20 years. a couple summers ago he bought a dozen lamb mas and trained them to carry clubs. as these golfers have learned, there's one small handicap. >> i'm right here, you know, look up, bad shot, disgrace, the whole nine yards. guys are like, go ahead, hit
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another one. we know it's the llama's fault strictly. >> reporter: if your game gets any worse you blame the llama. >> you have to blame something. >> reporter: but the course's long-time members credit the llamas with names like legend, lightning, and you the man for attracting new visitors even if they weren't exactly sold at first. >> kind of ludicrous, llamas on the golf course but then as i saw them out here and saw the response to them, families and kids, i thought it was a wonderful thing. >> reporter: sherwood forest is now part putting green, part petting zoo with a growing fan club. what do you think about these la mass out here on the golf course. >> pretty cool. >> reporter: pretty cool. >> first time i have seen a llama up close. >> reporter: if you're wondering, here is what that looks like. these llamas won't help you pick a club and they can't help you read a green, but the one thing they might do is what every golfer needs, keep you sane. just ask course manager brian. >> just gives them a sense of
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patience and kind of puts them in a sense of ease. gives them a little peace. you know, you look in these eyes here and you just can't help but be messerized by them. >> reporter: a new kind of caddy giving golfers something to talk about, other than their score. peter alexander, nbc, brevard, north carolina. and that's "nbc nightly news" for this sunday. thank you, everybody, for watching. i'm lester holt reporting from new york. brian williams will be here tomorrow. for all of us here at nbc news, tomorrow. for all of us here at nbc news, good night. -- captions by vitac -- snishtion
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